Katrina Jackson has been one of my favorite discoveries this year. She is a college professor who writes high heat, queer, often polyamorous, diverse stories. Her stories are centered around black women and their desire. Very few of her interracial relationships involve white people. I would love it if someone smarter than me wrote a thesis on the genius of Katrina Jackson. I can see it, but I can’t explain it.
Of the books of hers I have read, I would only describe Office Hours as a romance. The rest are better described as erotic romantic suspense. In Office Hours, Dr. Deja Evans is a professor on the tenure track at a small Midwestern college. She’s trying to be a good colleague, a good academic, and a good professor. She wants to support the BIPOC who, like her, are the first in her family to pursue academia, but she doesn’t have a lot of support herself. Fueling her fantasies and providing a little day dream material is Dr. Alejandro Mendoza. While she’s been pretending not to look at him, he has been looking at her.
She watched as his smile faded and his eyes warmed into a banked fire, and even if she’d wanted to look away, now she couldn’t. They stared at each other for so long that the rest of the room disappeared. Deja didn’t hear any more of the boring report or Marie’s annoying mutterings because the sound of her own racing pulse had filled her ears.
As important as their romance to the book is Deja’s experience being a junior, tenure track faculty. She is overwhelmed, exhausted, and without much support. Jackson is a professor and imbues her fictional college with steely eyed reality. The politics, the pining, and the reward of two lovely people who are doing their best getting a Happily Ever After was soul satisfying.
She was a five-foot ten-inch thick bitch with a size eleven shoe and an ass that made grown adults’ mouths water; fitting in would be a tragedy when she looked this good.
Katrina Jackson is such a visual writer. Chloe is immediately fleshed out both as a physical and emotional presence.
What I want more of in the world is heist stories. If I can get my criminals with hearts more golden than not, stealing from bad people and then indulging in sexy interludes, I would be even happier. Grand Theft, N.Y.E. brings us Chloe Wright and her team of thieves and grifters. Chloe is the leader and the distraction. She keeps all eyes on her while her team cleans out the mark. At party where she is supposed to be the distraction, Chloe is distracted by Robert, a good looking Asian American man. They leave together, engage in foreplay while driving fast and then have sex at his house. In the morning she takes his watch and his car and disappears.
Robert isn’t the rich pretty boy he seems. He has resources and he goes looking for Chloe. He wants the watch back, but more than that, he wants her back. I would watch this as a movie. I would watch this and the anticipated sequel with Chloe’s sister as a tv series. NetFlix should call Katrina Jackson.
NetFlix should also call Katrina Jackson about Pink Slip. It is the first book in The Spies Who Loved Her series about a small spy firm. A little like Archer, but everyone is competent. Kierra has just gotten her master’s degree in literature and needs a job that will help her payoff her school loans, since no one will pay her to write poetry. She applies for a job as a personal assistant to Mr. and Mrs. Peters. Her first interview involves being blindfolded and taken to a secure location. She gets the job, but three years later she gives her notice. She’s fallen in love with both of them and the unrequited passion has become untenable. After one last adventure and a few days of slaking thirsts, they disappear from her life. For a while.
Kierra started to feel normal again after a month. Well, as normal as she could feel while unemployed and trying to process a kinda sorta breakup. She started leaving the house on a regular basis although she mostly just sat in coffee shops, trying to write, but just scribbling Monica and Lane’s names over and over again – sometimes putting her own in between them – instead. It was very high school dramatics, but Kierra had decided to lean into it.
Kierra is a fabulous ingénue. She’s too smart to miss that Lane and Monica are spies, but she is in no way prepared to become one herself. The chapters at the Irish writer’s retreat are among my favorite chapters I read all year. I seriously considered just posting a big chunk of that section, but I think that would violate copywrite laws. As I’ve written this review, I’ve realized that Pink Slip is my favorite of this bunch.
Mafia romance is so not my thing. Cheating is not my thing either, and yet, I devoured Beautiful + Dirty. This short bite defies description. Shae is on the trip of a lifetime, planned with her boyfriend, and he is being a whiney asshole and ruining everything. When he ignores her reminders about bringing his passport and can’t get on the train for a daytrip to Naples, Shae leaves him in Rome. Salvatore has spent the morning torturing someone to find out who is trying to kill him. When he finishes with that, he goes to his restaurant for an espresso. Shae walks in and the two of them are instantly in lust.
And speaking of sex, I think this man is probably amazing at it just by the way he walks, which makes me realize that Steve is not. Isn’t that a bitch?…That maybe if I had dated someone else, this fictional new boyfriend would have taken my sexual inexperience as the beginning rather than the end of the story. That with another man, I might have become someone else, someone who wasn’t such a people-pleaser, someone who asked for what she wanted in bed instead of silently taking what was on offer and remaining unsatisfied; someone bolder.
Beautiful + Dirty is very short and ends with Shae returning to her boyfriend and Salvatore to his wife. Kind of. But the story will continue and I will read it even though mafia romance isn’t my thing.
I feel woefully underqualified to say something smart about Katrina Jackson’s writing. Her stories are high heat, funny, emotional, and evocative. I’ve got three more of her books queued up and ready to go.